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The Collaterals of Avo-Toast Popularity

Some people think of Friday as the happiest day of the week, but for me, it was always Saturday. Every Saturday without exception my family and I would go to a café to eat breakfast. I remember the ecstasy of reading an entire menu that contained typical breakfast foods:  eggs, pancakes, waffles, French toasts, chocolate milk… you name it! As I grew older and I changed, the menu of the café started to change as well. What before was comfort-food paradise was now full of acai bowls and turmeric-ginger drinks. Saturday breakfast became the perfect excuse to post the delicious and aesthetic $9 avocado toast. With over 16K posts, #avocadotoasts became the embodiment of “health” and “popularity.” Influencers, Britney Spears, and the person next to you at the café were compelling  you to order one. The increase in popularity increased the demand dramatically. In January alone nearly 320 million pounds of avocados were imported to the US, setting a new import record  (Rabobank). The 33% annual increase in demand has been so powerful that it converted avocados into something more than an Instagram post: a political weapon. 

When we sit at the table, we rarely think about the origin of the products we eat. The same occurs with avocado toast. There is a tendency to oversimplify agricultural product origin by thinking that most agricultural products are farmed in America. Truth is, only 10% of avocados are grown in the United States. According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, Mexico was the principal source of American-consumed avocados. This became germane when president Donald Trump tried to impose a 20% tariff on Mexican imports in order to pay for his famous “wall”. His new policy was the incarnation of his campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again.” On the surface, what appeared to be a nationalist move would have impacted the millions of avocado toast consumers in the U.S. The $9 avocado toast would have been an $11 dollar toast. 

The increase in demand does not only impact American politics. In Mexico, avocados are known as “green gold” for growers. Avocados are the opportunity for agricultural communities to thrive; a thriving that has also sparked the interest of the cartels. The states of Michoacán and Jalisco are the leading avocado producers in Mexico. They are also breeding states for criminal groups like Nueva Generacion and the New Michoacán Family. Thirsty for more power and money, the cartels have seen the opportunity to earn money from the exports without having to grow the avocados themselves. Cartel extorsion comes in different flavors, from stealing trucks with imports, to kidnapping, raping, and killing the families of the farmers. In exchange for protection farmers have to pay a quota that amounts to up to $2,500 U.S. dollars per hectare. The government action to protect its own people has been minimal, therefore offering the opportunity of self-defense groups to arise. The farming communities’ children now carry guns instead of avocados.  

Farming communities in Mexico tend to be populated by indigenous people. Faced with external hardships like poverty and lack of education, the indigenous communities in Mexico are confronted with yet another issue. While in some instances self-defense groups are able to eliminate the threat of the cartels, other groups are outgunned by the cartels. A 2017 study by Global Financial Integrity estimated that a cartel income is between $426 billion to $652 billion U.S. dollars a year which exceeds Walmart’s revenue in 2017. The arsenal of cartel weapons and technology is hardly able to be paralleled by the farming communities, leaving them more vulnerable than ever. Additionally, self-defense groups run the risk of becoming integrated with other better established criminal groups. 

The growth in avocado popularity is in no way to be blamed for the U.S. or Mexico’s political problems. In fact, indigenous and farming communities could potentially benefit incredibly from the demand growth. However, the world is a more complex entity than we conceptualize. We sit every Saturday to eat avocado toasts and post them on Instagram without really understanding the sweat and blood that the avocado represents. More than feeling guilty, it inspires a certain sense of humility and thankfulness for having the opportunity to eat such a nutritious dish without having to pay the violent consequences of harvesting them.  

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Food Courts, and Why We Need More of Them

Imagine hearing the clanging of woks and the sizzle of meats while the aroma of garlic and sweet chillies cling to the sticky, humid air. This is what I call chaotic heaven. Under a gigantic canopy sits huge families, grandparents included, around circular tables covered in dishes like chicken satay, chilli crab, char kway teow noodles, and fishball soup. Or you can simply find old-timers strolling around for good company. 

Hawker centres, or food courts, are the heart and soul of Singapore. Growing up in Singapore, nothing beats the cheap eats and seriously faint-worthy food in hawker centres. Each and every stall, peppered all over the country, represents a piece of the community of different races and generations. Hawker centres are a heritage symbol of the multiculturalism of Singapore. But beyond that, it’s a place to gather. When I came to America for college, that aspect of a food community just didn’t exist. 

Hawker stalls in Singapore originated from street vendors in the mid-1800s when early settlers set up these stalls with minimal cost and skill. These settlers came from all walks of life—they were Chinese, Malay, Indian, and more. Over time, each cultural dish melded into the unique Singaporean local cuisine we know today. By 1968, the government moved street hawker stalls into licensed centres with proper amenities and sanitation. There are now over 110 hawker centres all over Singapore, some tucked away in apartment buildings as a social gathering place for the neighborhood. These stall owners, or hawkers, can be family-run businesses across generations. The vitality of hawker centres is crucial to Singapore’s cultural heritage. 

What if we had hawker centres in America? What would that look like?

In Boston, the closest comparison to a hawker centre would be Time Out Market. The concept is the same—community tables, outdoor seating, and individual stalls with different cuisines to mix and match your orders. However, the prices are very different. You can get a Michelin star meal for as low as $5 at hawker centres! 

But beyond just prices, Time Out Market doesn’t emulate the soul of hawker centres. And it boils down to America’s lack of generational connection to food and community sharing in a culture steeped in individualism. 

I remember taking my cousins from Australia to a hawker centre. We feasted on dishes like fried carrot cake (my favorite—white radish pastry fried in sweet black sauce with an egg omelette), laksa (rice noodles in a rich and spicy coconut broth), chicken rice (a Singapore classic), and more. You couldn’t see the yellow plastic table beneath all the food. This is how we introduce Singapore when visitors come. The sharing aspect is key. And beyond small tapas in a wildly Americanized Spanish restaurant, I don’t see that level of sharing here. Appetizers, entrees, and side dishes? Just eat anything that’s in front of you! That’s the mindset. Nothing is yours and nothing is mine. 

What’s worse, non-American/European dishes lose their authenticity in America. I’m not talking about the small cultural restaurants owned and run by people of color. It’s the places like Time Out Market, marketing off the idea of diverse food selection, that dilute the foods itself to make it more palatable to a white customer base. Places like PF Changs also rub me the wrong way. It’s this blatant ignorance for authenticity that would make the idea of a hawker centre fail in America. 

At the same time, is that what we need? Can the concept of traditional cuisines in a community gathering space normalize cultural sharing in a country that’s so afraid to do so? Time Out Market needs a new marketing team.

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Margaret’s CCC Cake

My curiosity for baking started as a meager first-grader intently watching Food Network. I was mesmerized by the enormous cakes Buddy Valastro concocted and the 1,000-piece displays on Cupcake Wars. My eyes were glued to the screen, and I was in awe of how the final products looked so real yet were edible. I studied how bakers frosted cakes or piped roses and would attempt to emulate their work. As a child, I dreamed of one day owning my own bakery and constructing five-tier wedding cakes. So, as a determined little girl, I set out aiming to achieve just that.

At age six, I designed and constructed my inaugural cake for my brother John’s birthday. It consumed me for hours and the final product was a five-car steam engine train sculpted by hand and embellished with candy as mechanical parts. The cake was crumbly, but I still felt unstoppable. I could not have been a prouder sister. Making this cake consumed me for hours and established my love for baking.  Thankfully, my skill has grown from there. 

After years of failed experiments, from burnt bottoms to curdled frosting, I now create original recipes and make the tiered cakes I dreamed of baking as a child. With cakes, I envision the cake as my canvas and the piping bags as my paint. The magic begins when my artistic instincts kick in, allowing me to swiftly pipe designs without a predesigned plan and transform the cake into a showpiece. Designing cakes is an outlet for me in which I am fully present in the moment and can create something that will bring people together and enlightening their taste buds.  Cakes have a deep symbolism in our culture, so I take pride in being the person people turn to for birthdays, weddings, and other celebrations.

Cake is no doubt my favorite food group and will always be present in my life. The possibilities are endless. Today, I’m sharing my chocolate chip cookie cake recipe, which has been on my mind ever since I perfected making the chocolate chip cookie. With no better combination of two desserts, this recipe offers a twist on the quintessential American comfort food. This cake boasts a chocolate crumble cookie crust with layers of fully chocolate chip vanilla cake, smothered in a decedent brown sugar buttercream, and topped with freshly baked cookies. This blend will simply delight your taste buds and the crowd. 

Ingredients

Chocolate cookie crumble 

1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cornstarch 

1 cup granulated sugar 

1 ⅓ cups cocoa powder 

½ teaspoon salt 

12 tablespoon melted butter 

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake 

2 ¼ cups & 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour 

2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt 

¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature 

3 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup whole milk, room temperature

1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Brown Butter Buttercream 

1 ½ cups light brown sugar

⅓ cup water 

2 ½ cups (6 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 

9 cups powdered sugar 

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 chocolate chip cookies

Instructions

Begin by making the chocolate cookie crumble. Preheat the oven to 300 ℉. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Pour the butter into the dry ingredients and combine until it is a crumb consistency. Grease three 9-inch circular cake pans, evenly distribute the cookie crumble among the pans and use the back of a spoon to set the crumble in place. Bake for 12 minutes and let cool while preparing the cake batter. 

Moving on to the vanilla chocolate chip cake, increase the oven temperature to 350℉. In a small bowl, crack the eggs and add the vanilla, allowing them to sit for 5-10 minutes to enhance the vanilla flavor. In another medium-sized bowl, combine 2 ¼ cups of flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy for 2-4 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla mixture in three additions, making sure it is fully incorporated after each addition. Whip the batter for 3 to 4 minutes until light and fluffy. Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk, starting with flour and using three additions of flour and two of milk. Fully incorporate after each addition. Dust the chocolate chips in the remaining 2 teaspoons of flour and mix them into the batter. Once combined, evenly pour the batter on top of the pans with the chocolate cookie crumble. Bake for 20 to 25 mins or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool completely.

While the cake and crumble are cooling, move on to make the brown sugar buttercream. Begin by combining the brown sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until a soft boil, approximately 5 minutes. Set aside and let it cool slightly. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter until light and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes. Slowly add the powdered sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Next, slowly pour the slightly warm brown sugar mixture into the mixer. Add the vanilla. Beat on high for 3 to 5 minutes. If the buttercream is too warm, place it in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes. Whip once again before using. 

After all the elements have been created, it is now time for the construction of the masterpiece. Start by placing one cake layer, cookie crumble side down, on your board using a dollop of frosting to keep it in place. Spread one cup of frosting on top, ensuring that it is level. Repeat this process with the remaining two layers. Spread a thin layer of frosting around the whole cake using an offset spatula. This crumb coat ensures that the crumbs are locked into the first layer and will not show for the final product. Freeze the cake for 10 minutes. Once slightly frozen, completely frost the cake, saving one cup of frosting for piping. Once completely frosted, use the Wilton 1M tip to pipe a ribbon along the top. Cut the pre-made or store-bought cookies in half and place them on the top of the cake. Enjoy:)


Recipe Adapted from Cake by Coutrney’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Cover Photo courtesy of Margaret Kuffner

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Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

The recent semesters—remarkably short of socialization—deliver an unmistakable sense of urgency to compensate for lost time. There is a distinct flavor of the moment that demands us to take lessons from our quarantine kitchens, indulge our taste buds, and endeavor in entertaining and gathering again. 

This recipe comes from trial and error and the nearly forgotten, yet adorned, busyness of rummaging around the kitchen, awaiting the impending arrival of guests. Inspired by the spirit of entertaining and by the curiosity of flavor, I tried my hand in making bacon-wrapped, goat cheese stuffed dates this past week. It’s an appetizer that I biasedly chose due to its glorious description of bacon-wrapped, but also, in part, by reason of its more creative nickname as “devils on horseback.” 

Something of its nontraditional title reminded me of the forthcoming autumn season, humorously prompting me to imagine the headless horseman. Also, I’ve found that something about food named after devils rarely disappoints. And even more so than its playful name, these dates fit perfectly for fall with their warmth when they are pulled right out of the oven, and with the tasty explosion of their diverse set of flavors and textures that arrive in every bite. 

For this recipe, the sweet and chewy dates contrast with the tangy, smooth, and earthy flavor and texture of the goat cheese. The crisped, caramelized bacon on the exterior completes the bite. And the finely chopped candied pecans on top perfectly balance the saltiness of the bacon. These dates pair exceptionally well with the accompaniment of a charcuterie board. Not only do they provide a delicious addition, but guarantee to draw in one’s eye on an appetizer spread. 

So whether you are entertaining your friends or just looking to cook for yourself, I’d highly recommend testing this recipe. Who doesn’t like to gloat about the amazing date they had the other night?

Ingredients:

6 ounces goat cheese (1 small log)

24 Medjool dates

12 slices thinly sliced bacon

1/3 cup honey

¼ cup brown sugar

Kosher salt 

½ cup candied pecans

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 ℉ and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Split the dates in half lengthwise, being sure not to slice them all the way through. After removing the pit, stuff each date with goat cheese, just enough for the dates to still be able to close with its contents. Then slice your strips of bacon in half, making the pieces more fitted to wrap around each date. After wrapping each date with bacon, puncture the dates with toothpicks to hold the bacon strips in place, and then move them to the prepared baking sheet. 

Once the dates are separated on the baking sheet, evenly drizzle them with honey and lightly sprinkle them with the brown sugar and a pinch of salt. The coating of honey and brown sugar will help the bacon caramelize in the oven. Finely chop the candied pecans, sprinkling them on top as well. Bake the dates for 20 minutes or until bacon is crisp to your liking, remove from the oven, and allow time to cool. Enjoy!

Cover photo courtesy of Walder Wellness

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Recipe for Love

Many of us are familiar with the five love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. However, I would argue that a few others should be added to the list, notably food. Love can be demonstrated both by gifting food and cooking food together. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Matthew Riccio, a Graduate Fellow with the National Science Foundation said “[Cooking for others] can help to encourage a sense of trust, community, meaning, purpose, belonging, closeness, and intimacy.” In fact, human evolution, literature, psychology, and the science of memory all provide evidence that cooking together should be a central part of any relationship.

While cooking and eating food are now  essential parts of daily life, humanity was not always centered around cooking. A study on cooking and the ecology of human origins found that “sexual alliances emerged from the adoption of cooking, particularly of plant foods.” They  concluded that “cooking, whenever it evolved, led rapidly to the evolution of males’ scrounging from females and thence to sexual alliances.” Although relationships are far more than mere sexual alliances, the argument that cooking was a formational part of the creation of such partnerships suggests that cooking should be an integral part of any relationship.

It is unsurprising, given the interconnectedness of cooking and relationships throughout history, that many believe the way a couple works together in the kitchen reflects their relationship as a whole. In The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister, one of the characters, Lillian, “wonder[s] why psychologists focused so much on a couple’s life in their bedroom. You could learn everything about a couple just watching their kitchen choreography as they prepared dinner.” Cooking is a very personal act because it is centered around the chef’s preferences. The way in which those preferences are shared between two people can be very telling of their relationship. 

The link between cooking and relationships is strengthened by the connection between cooking and memory. John Allen writes that the hippocampus, a part of the brain central in creating and maintaining memories, relies upon the parts of the brain focused on emotion and odor, both of which are strongly related to food. Whether it’s the smell of brownies wafting from the oven or lemon zest lingering on fingertips, scent becomes more potent when a couple takes the time to cook together. The odor is not merely delivered on a plate and sent away, but it invades their bodies, their kitchen, and perhaps their whole house. Emotion too has the potential to be strengthened when a couple cooks together. The memory is no longer only sharing a meal together, but includes the walk to Trader Joe’s for ingredients, dancing in the kitchen while cooking, and the pride resulting from working together to create a product of beauty. 

image courtesy of AuburnHomes

We have all been immediately transported by the whiff of a scent; even if we cannot place the memory attached to it, we feel the scent’s familiarity. In Space and Place, geographer Yi Fu Tuan reflects upon the various senses that lead to the creation of an experiential sense of place. “Odors lend character to objects and places, making them distinctive, easier to identify and remember,” Tuan notes.  A sense of place is so much more than an understanding of one’s surroundings; it is created by the people, the experiences, the scents, and more that give rise to emotion within us. Cooking together allows one to create a sense of place⁠— a knowledge of who they are in their relationship. By prioritizing cooking together, a couple creates a place to build their relationship because, just as Bauermeister noted in her novel, a couple’s interactions in the kitchen are a reflection of their relationship. 

French author Marcel Proust beautifully articulates the emotional impact of food, a feeling common to many of us. He writes in Remembrance of Things Past of the memory that springs to his mind when he tastes a tea-dipped madeleine. Immediately after indulging in the madeline, he experiences an emotion much greater than the mere sensation biting into a madeline could have evoked. Although he is unsure at first of the specific memory that connects to this feeling, he describes the pleasure that invades his body as “having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me, it was myself. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, accidental, mortal.” The taste of food can transform one’s entire emotional state and when shared, links that feeling of joy described by Proust with the other person. When a couple takes the time to cook together, they create more opportunities to share tastes, for example when they lick the batter off of the spatula. Furthermore, cooking together allows couples to personalize the taste of the food they will be sharing. Making memories is an integral part of building a relationship and sharing meals; food that has been cooked together especially allows for the formation of more vibrant memories.

image courtesy of paliodiet.gonzales

Harry Connick Junior’s song “Recipe for Love” breaks love down into ingredients just as a traditional recipe would. The title of his song points to the importance of cooking in relationships. By taking the time to cook together, couples can improve their relationships and create beautiful memories together. Thus, cooking should not only be added to this list of love languages, but should also be included in every relationship as part of the recipe for love—even if there is no true formula for it.

Cover image courtesy of goodhousekeeping.com

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Tasting Notes #1 – Coffee and Chocolate

In a year where so much has been so frustratingly unpredictable, we’ve entered a period and an environment of relative stability. The grass is covered in a heavy blanket of snow, the sun has become a reclusive monk in the monastery of the sky, and our social circles have shrunk to where they more resemble social specks. 

But I, in this period of frigid confinement, have found a nice routine. I invariably get up and make my coffee to drink  with a Trader Joe’s mini biscotti, and I invariably make myself some dinnertime Franken-meal grounded by rice, udon, or ramen. 

So, in commemoration of the boring and the not-so-bad, I’ve compiled ten of my favorite food-themed songs of the moment. They range from the despondent to the blithely pleasant, much like life itself in this cursed decade. Enjoy in the morning, at night, or anytime in between.

One More Cup of Coffee for the Road- Bob Dylan

We all make our daily trudges to the valley below. The titular cup of coffee represents, to me, a respite before the weight we carry makes its load known to us. A quotidian struggle that we shrug off with stoically downturned eyes, faces buried in scarves and parkas. Enjoy that last cup before you go, my friends.

Banana Pancakes – Jack Johnson

If Dylan’s song is Wednesday at 8 a.m., Jack Johnson’s ode to the iconic breakfast is a lazy Sunday morning. Johnson knows that his song is nothing other than the backdrop to the spectacle of light hitting the fresh pancakes, a supporting actor in the performance we give to others and ourselves when we go through the work of making pancakes. It’s cheesy, it’s glorious, it’s replete with contentment.

Agua De Beber – Astrud Gilberto (or Antonio Carlos Jobim)

The grooviest melody on this list —and possibly of all time?— is reserved for a song dedicated to the most boring way of caring for yourself: Drink water. Beneath the melody that has squatters rights to your head, though, is a song about the importance of opening your heart. The act of vulnerability and opening yourself to the love of others is, as Jobim and Gilberto imply, a thing just as crucial and strangely quotidian as the act of drinking water itself. And just like drinking water, we so often forget to do it, going days without it until we’re too parched to ignore it. Wherever you are reading this, make sure to stay hydrated. Drink some water.

People Eating Fruit – Caribou

What does the color green sound like? In my opinion, it’s the gentle beep-boops of this song, a verdant song that, when coupled with a glance out of the window, becomes an ode to the beauty of mundanity. The way someone’s hair bounces when they walk, the way the bare trees cast a spiderweb of shadows on the snow, the beautiful geometry of the buildings we walk by every day. Or, someone peeling and eating a fruit, enjoying the bounty of the natural world for everything it has to offer.

Bittersweet – Lianne La Havas

The most direct way that food and taste relate to the human experience, at least on this playlist. Beyond Lianne La Havas’ effortless oscillation between the bitter and sweet sensation of a goodbye that hasn’t fully happened yet, the song is like biting into a square of 90% dark chocolate. Powerful, distinctive in its flavors, it’ll leave a gorgeous tapestry of taste in your mouth.

The Chocolate Conquistadors – BadBadNotGood and MF DOOM

One of the last songs MF DOOM recorded before his passing earlier this year, this song seamlessly combines BBNG’s signature jazzy odysseys with Doom’s ever-intricate flurry of internal and multisyllabic rhymes. It’s two artists working overtime to provide us with a 7-minute jazz analysis of colonialism. The title, itself a reclamation, references chocolate’s fraught history as the product of conquest in the Americas. Though not at all about food, it reminds us that food history is everywhere, inevitably.

Coconut – Harry Nilsson

Coconut Schmoconut. That’s what Harry Nilsson would’ve said about it, anyways.

Tasty Cakes – Idris Muhammad

What do you mean this song isn’t about food?

Savoy Truffle – The Beatles

A mystery: What’s George Harrison’s goal here? Ostensibly, this is a song about various fancy desserts. But then he hits you with, “You might not feel it now / But when the pain cuts through / You’re going to know and how / The sweat is going to fill your head / When it becomes too much / You’re going to shout aloud.” Is this the hangover after so many motley desserts? Is it a damnation of the gentry that takes these sweets for granted? Or is it just a nifty little tune?

What’s in a quarantine? Is it a chance to enjoy the minutiae or is it the swing of a sledgehammer on our passions and hearts? Like the Savoy Truffle, it’s both and it’s neither. Maybe it’s, as Wikipedia says, just about Eric Clapton’s fondness for chocolate.

Live on. Drink your coffee and eat your chocolate. Everything is changing.

Find the full playlist here:

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Mucho Gusto Announcement

At Gusto, our mission is to connect people through stories about food. And it’s easier than ever to give in to the dread of isolation and forget that we are still part of a community. That’s why we’re starting #MuchoGusto, a recipe campaign where we want to hear what you’re cooking and build a collective cookbook that anyone can access.

It’s never been more important to be able to feed yourself. With #MuchoGusto, we’re going to be compiling recipes from our editors, staff, and from you, and we’ll feature it all on our Instagram page and website starting this Monday (April 6, 2020). If you have a recipe you’d like to share, DM us or email borbolla@bc.edu to get it published .

Eventually we hope to have a collection of diverse recipes that anyone can access. For now, remember to keep cooking, eating, and being well.

-Nico Borbolla

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The Best Breakfast Sandwich Recipe

Emmalie Vanderpool

It’s easy to get stuck in a routine with breakfast foods and grow tired of simple eggs, oatmeal, or yogurt. This breakfast sandwich recipe is balanced enough to satisfy a craving for sweet or savory, and can be tweaked to fit individual flavor preferences. Switch out different meats, veggies, hot sauces, and jellies to guarantee a different and delicious sandwich every time.

(Makes one breakfast sandwich)

Put a frying pan on medium heat and cook two slices of bacon to your desired crispness. While it’s cooking, chop up ⅕ of a green pepper and ¼ of a small white onion into small cubes. Once the bacon is done, let rest on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up excess oil. After removing most–but not all–of the grease from the pan, throw in the veggies and cook on medium heat for around five minutes. Next, turn down the heat to medium-low and crack two eggs over the pan, letting them cook for a few seconds as they are. Add shredded cheese and begin stirring the mixture until the eggs are scrambled and cooked through, but still appear to have a little moisture left (this takes about one minute). Remove the frying pan from the burner and season the eggs with a pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Toast a bagel and spread jam on one side, hot sauce on the other (my favorite combination is raspberry jam with peach and vidalia onion flavored hot sauce). Construct your final product by layering the bacon and egg mixture on top, and sandwiching it between both ends of the toasted bagel. Then enjoy your delicious breakfast!

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Peach Panzanella Salad

Yiwei Li

Originating from farmers in 16th century Tuscany, panzanella salad was made with ingredients pulled straight from the ground. This summer favorite relies on simple fresh ingredients to create a salad that is truly delicious. But, I have some good news for you: this is a bread salad. Yes, you heard that right. A bread salad. With the anticipation of tomato and peach season, this is the perfect way to showcase seasonal summer produce and of course, bread.

Salad:

2-3 tomatoes (preferably heirloom), diced

½ of red onion, thinly sliced

1 loaf of slightly stale bread (Italian, ciabatta, or baguette), cut into 1-inch cubes

¼ cup fresh basil, torn

½ cucumber, halved and sliced

½ ball of mozzarella

1 peach, diced

Vinaigrette:

6 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar/champagne vinegar

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tsp salt, pepper to taste

Instructions:

Chop the bread into 1-inch cubes. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and toast the bread over medium to high heat until golden and crispy.

Whisk together the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper until well incorporated. Combine the chopped tomatoes, peaches, red onion, cucumber, mozzarella, basil, and toasted bread in a large bowl. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss well to combine. Let the panzanella sit for 10-20 minutes, tossing occasionally to allow the bread to soak up the dressing prior to serving.

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Sun-Dried Tomato Chickpea Burger

Emily Stevens

Creating a veggie burger that is flavorful and holds its shape is no small feat. We believe we’ve achieved the seemingly impossible with these chickpea burgers infused with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh herbs. Topped with a simple garlic basil aioli, this plant-based entrée is easy to prepare and even easier to eat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor or blender, combine one 15 oz can of chickpeas (rinsed, drained, patted dry), ½ cup chopped red onion, 4 cloves minced garlic, ⅓  cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and 1 cup packed fresh parsley and blend until smooth. Transfer chickpea mixture to a medium bowl. Add ½ cup panko breadcrumbs, 1 Tbsp ground cumin, 1 egg, salt, and pepper to taste and mix until everything is evenly incorporated. If the mixture remains too wet, add breadcrumbs by tablespoon until the desired consistency is reached. Refrigerate the mixture for half an hour to make the burgers easier to shape. Using dampened hands, shape into 4-6 patties, each about ½ inch thick and place onto a parchment paper-lined pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, flipping half-way through until golden brown. While the burgers bake, pulse 1 cup fresh basil, 3 cloves of minced garlic, ½ cup mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt in food processor to create the aioli. Serve on your favorite bun with your toppings of choice; we were craving a poppy seed bun with fresh microgreens, heirloom tomato, red onion, and a drizzle of the garlic basil aioli.